Mace and I returned to San Rafael and rented a little cottage of our own. Mace painted the rooms lemon yellow, and I glided around in dreamy domestic ecstasy. In the sensuous seventies, the preamble to the essentials of living was not a prospering career, and getting ahead. It was with a minimal amount of work, improvise, meditate, and stay high. Some Indian guru coined it, “going with the flow.”
I learned to cook fettuccine, entertain Mace ’s guests, and polish tennis shoes. Above all, I learned how to read adults, in a way I had never considered before. Mace explained the concealed messages in spoken language, and how to recognize the signals of deception, arrogance, racism, and affectation. He was continually pointing out, people’s affectations, while he drove me around in our vintage MBZ 250 SEL.
For money, resources fluctuated between teaching tennis, calling his agent in San Francisco, (he did commercials for Gallo Wine) and working on various deals. There was never one steady job, he was the Rocket Man, and people gravitated towards us. After meeting someone one day, they would be at our dinner table that night.
Amidst all the activity, I was suffering the guilt of watching my college funds vanish. That was the tragedy, but there is always sacrifice in this kind of passion. Just as my father had warned me, Mace did not refrain from spending my money. I withdrew from the College of Marin, and for a while worked part time in a small bohemian cafe in Mill Valley.
One very early morning, while we were still sleeping, the doorbell rang. Mace rushed to the door prepared to admonish whomever was knocking. When I came striding over in my silk Rita Hayworth negligee, I was astounded.
“Luellen, who is this guy, he says you know him?”
“Dale, it’s all right Mace, I know him, he’s a friend of my father’s.
“What kind of friend?” Mace demanded. Dale stood there in the archway, dressed in a wrinkled suit, his sandy hair heavily slicked to appear arranged, and eyes shaded behind rose tinted sunglasses.
“Mace , I’m just here to make sure Luellen is all right.” Dale shifted his weight between both legs. He looked taller than I remembered.
“She’s fine, you can see that.” Mace replied.
“Mace , let Dale in the door.” I embraced Dale momentarily, as I always had in the past. His edginess did not alarm me; he was always burdened by some desperate measures. My father was continually counseling him about his tribulations.
Mace hustled Dale into the living. I went into the bedroom to get dressed. My mind raced between images of my father and Dale, the run-around guy that obeyed orders. He did not resemble a tough guy; he was the Sterling Hayden type, the guy always on the run. Mace appeared in the doorway, and rushed over to me.
“Who is that guy?”
“He’s just a friend of my Dad, don’t worry he’s not dangerous…. I don’t think. ”
“He came to get you, your father sent him Lue,” he looked at me apprehensively.
“Is that what he said?”
“He doesn’t have to. We’ll take him out to breakfast; I want to be in public, just in case.”
“In case of what?”
“Just get dressed quickly.”
“You won’t let him take me will you?” I said panicking.
“NO! I can handle it.” Mace assured.
We drove into Larkspur to our favorite café. Mace led us to a table outside in the garden, in the warmth of sunlight. Mace orchestrated the meeting, so it was relaxed and enjoyable for Dale, and slowly Dale began to unwind. He removed his suit jacket and ate heartily after the long drive. They talked, and I confirmed what Mace offered.
“We live modestly now, but not for long, I’m going to manage the Tennis club, and Lue’s going to get her real estate license. Isn’t that right honey?”
“Yes, that’s right.” I acknowledged. Mace had been advising me to get a license.
“Dale, you should hang out with us a while, I’ll take you around. You can see for yourself what our life is about. I’m not hiding anything Dale, I love Luellen, and her father knows it.”
“How is my father Dale?” I interrupted.
“Luellen, your father isn’t angry with you. He just wants to make sure you’re all right.”
“Why didn’t he come with you?” Dale hunched over the table and looking directly at Mace . “He was afraid of what he might do.” Mace stood up suddenly.
“ Dale, I’m not a stupid man. I know about him too.”
Things deteriorated from there. Mace and Dale argued, I pleaded to leave the restaurant. In the car, I managed to dissuade the arguing with a hysterical outburst, and tears. Then I mediated Mace and Dale, whose conflicting assignments were bordering on a hit in an alley.
“I need you both to calm down. Dale has to return without me, and my father is going to be angry. Mace , Dale needs our help.” Mace responded by retiring his grudge and substituting some personal stories along with several rounds of backgammon. When Dale was ready to leave, I took him aside.
“ See Dale, I’m happy here, I can’t go back with you.”
“Are you sure? I can still take care of Mace ! I will not hurt him, just stall him so you can get in the car. I’m not coming back again Luellen.” He said.
“Dale, he won’t let me go. He really loves me.”
“If that’s so, let him prove it. Come with me now, he’ll follow after you when he can handle things.”
“Dale, I just can’t go with you.”
“Luellen, your father’s gonna blame me.”
“I’m sorry Dale, please understand.”
“ He’s going to be furious.”
“Well, you’ve seen him that way before right? He’ll calm down.” I spoke with feigned confidence. I had no idea how he would respond, but I knew he would blame Dale. He passed me his telephone number on a piece of paper, shook hands with Mace and told him to take care of me. Then he took of in his Cadillac.
Mace returned to the living room boasting of his conquest.
“Dale was supposed to threaten me with a gun, but he liked me too much to go through with it.”
“Did he show you the gun?”
“Yea. Lue, I told you-I am not easily intimidated.”
In the next six months, I passed my real estate exam and Mace was setting up a business. Mace had a friend who owned a Mortgage Banking Company in San Francisco. I was going to sell new residential developments and Mace was going to secure clients. We moved into a charming little house in Ross and commuted to the city to have meetings. We dined with successful men and their wives and I tried to read all the signals. Soon my father would see me on the sophisticated side of the street, leaving the hippie hibernating spell for good.
Then one day the meetings stopped. Mace retreated to the tennis court and played the rocket man. He ignored my questions and concern for our future. The car was sold, the guests stopped coming over, and Mace lived in stubborn silence. The day came I had to make the phone call.
“Hi Daddy, it’s me.”
“Yea, what is it you want?”
“I want to come home and start over.” I replied.
“On one condition.”
“You never go back to him; you have to be absolutely sure.”
“I’m sure; I want to leave right away.” I said.
Within a week, I was back in my father’s apartment sitting on the blue and green crushed velvet sofa.
“Look now sweetheart, stop your crying, at least you didn’t come back pregnant. There is nothing to cry about now, you made a mistake and it’s over, you got your whole life ahead of you. Don’t bury yourself in the sand, nothing to be ashamed of; you ought to know the mistakes I’ve made. You couldn’t come close.”
Mace continued to pursue me. He was met by my father’s warning, ”If you come within ten feet of her, I’ll scratch your eyes out and stuff them down your throat.” Any dice to throw Email:firstname.lastname@example.org